Name: Fred Gaona III
Company: FordHarrison LLP
Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia
Number of Employees: 300+
Education: BA in government, University of Notre Dame; JD, The Ohio State University
What I’m Reading: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and Swinging for the Fences by Alex Montoya
My Philosophy: I subscribe to the Golden Rule: “Treat others the way that you want to be treated.”
Away from Work, I: I collect vinyl records and CDs. My collection is quite eclectic and includes recordings from the 1950s to the present day.
How My Heritage Values Fuel My Success: I am a Mexican-American from San Antonio, Texas. My culture is a large part of my identity. My parents and grandparents instilled a strong work ethic and taught me that education was the key to success. As an employment law attorney, I am often faced with having to learn all aspects of another profession, as well as the processes and procedure of a business, in a short time. My work ethic helps me to press on when the hours get long and the work gets tough.
How My Company Supports Me…and How I Pay it Forward: FordHarrison has supported my efforts to promote diversity inside and outside the firm. For instance, from day one, the firm has backed my work with the Texas Minority Counsel Program and the Dallas Hispanic Law Foundation—not only with sponsorship dollars, but also by actively participating in these worthwhile programs. I try to pay my blessings forward by being a mentor to other Hispanic and minority attorneys. We all need sound advice and a helping hand from time to time. I have also raised scholarship monies, through the Dallas Hispanic Law Foundation, for Hispanic students pursuing legal careers.
The Best Career Advice I’ve Received and the Advice I Offer Others: My mentor has always been Steve Wakefield, an attorney with whom I worked at my first law firm. Steve taught me that the law is a profession. His approach to the law reflected his philosophy regarding the way that we should interact with the court and other attorneys. We share many common values, and he has often provided me with small nuggets of wisdom that I carry with me to this day. His best career advice to me was to become an expert in my field of the law. From a personal standpoint, his best advice was to make time for the people and things that are important to you. I think I would share Steve’s philosophies and approaches with anyone looking to advance his or her career—become an expert in your field, build relationships, and treat others with dignity and respect.